Microscopic Proof of Photoluminescence from Mechanochemically Synthesized 1-Octene-Capped Quantum-Confined Silicon Nanoparticles: Implications for Light-Emission Applications
Silicon nanoparticles (SiNPs) have been explored intensively for their use in applications requiring efficient fluorescence for LEDs, lasers, displays, photovoltaic spectral-shifting filters, and biomedical applications. High radiative rates are essential for such applications, and theoretically these could be achieved via quantum confinement and/or straining. Wet-chemical methods used to synthesize SiNPs are under scrutiny because of reported contamination by fluorescent carbon species. To develop a cleaner method, we utilize a specially designed attritor type high-energy ball-mill and use a high-purity (99.999%) Si microparticle precursor. The mechanochemical process is used under a continuous nitrogen gas atmosphere to avoid oxidation of the particles. We confirm the presence of quantum-confined NPs (<5 nm) using atomic force microscopy (AFM). Microphotoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy coupled to AFM confirms quantum-confined tunable red/near-infrared PL emission in SiNPs capped with an organic ligand (1-octene). Using micro-Raman-PL spectroscopy, we confirm SiNPs as the origin of the emission. These results demonstrate a facile and potentially scalable mechanochemical method of synthesis for contamination-free SiNPs.